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Insurance Life Insurance

Marijuana and Life Insurance: Is There an Affect?

Marijuana use has become very common in the United States. Recent polls revealed one in seven adults in the United States used marijuana in 2017, with smoking the most common way to consume it. Other studies have shown the majority of all American adults have used marijuana at some time over the course of their lives.

More Americans than ever have used, or are currently using, marijuana thanks in part to changing attitudes about cannabis. Dozens of states have legalized the drug either for medicinal or recreational purposes, and there’s growing awareness that marijuana consumption could even have health benefits.

Yet, despite widespread acceptance, marijuana still remains an illegal controlled substance on the federal level, and many experts have expressed concern about risks associated with marijuana use. These risks could range from drugged driving to the increased potential to develop smoking-related cancers.

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How Life Insurance Factors In Marijuana Usage

Because there are conflicting laws and conflicting evidence on the health effects of marijuana use, it is treated differently than other drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, when it comes to life insurance including term life insurance and other types of policies.

In fact, marijuana is a gray area for life insurers, and different life insurance companies take different approaches to dealing with applicants or policyholders who test positive for marijuana or who admit to using it.

Do Most Life Insurance Companies Care if You Use Marijuana?

Life insurance companies want to know as much about you as possible before providing you with an insurance policy. When you apply for coverage, you’ll need to go through a life insurance underwriting process in which the insurer assesses many factors that impact your health. The goal of this process is to determine the likelihood you’ll pass away while you are insured. 

A urine test may be done, as are other medical exams to determine if you have any particular medical condition. Insurers want to determine how likely it is you’ll die because if it happens during your term of coverage, the insurer has to pay the death benefit. If someone does have a medical condition it can affect their ability to get insurance or it can impact life insurance rates. 

For example, non-smoker rates are often going to be significantly lower than life insurance quotes for cigarette smokers and tobacco rates. If someone wants the best rates their life insurance application and exam will have to indicate they are healthy and don’t engage in certain risky behaviors. 

Drug use – including smoking marijuana or using it other ways – is one factor that relates to your health which insurers may consider. Because the use of narcotics can affect your risk of passing away, a life insurance carrier will likely require you to take a drug test as part of a required medical exam you must undergo before getting covered. This drug test will look for marijuana use as well as evidence of other prescription and illegal narcotics in your system.

Insurers will also ask you to fill out a questionnaire and to disclose your current or past marijuana use. You need to be honest when answering because an untrue answer could be considered a material misrepresentation that voids your policy and means your insurer doesn’t have to pay the death benefit.

What insurers actually do when they find out you’ve used marijuana will vary by insurance company. Some insurers don’t penalize recreational users, or won’t treat marijuana use as an increased risk factor. Others may view excessive marijuana use as risky but won’t penalize you if you’re only an occasional user. The state where you live, and whether marijuana is legal or not, could also affect how a life insurer views your marijuana usage. 

Because there’s variation among insurance companies, it’s a good idea to do company-specific research before you apply for coverage. That way, you can find an insurer that won’t deny your application or charge you more for a policy just because you’re in the majority who has used cannabis in the past or among the millions of Americans currently taking the drug.  

Do Life Insurance Companies Treat Medical Marijuana Differently Than Recreational Marijuana?

If you are a medical marijuana user, don’t assume you won’t have to worry about paying higher premiums or being denied coverage. Life insurance companies not only consider illegal or recreational drug use when deciding whether to approve coverage or how much to charge. They also consider prescription medications you use under a doctor’s direction for a health condition and legitimate medical reasons.

If an insurer thinks your use of a prescription medication or marijuana for medicinal purposes puts you at added risk of dying while covered, insurers will raise premiums or deny coverage because of it. This happens commonly for people who’ve been prescribed opioids, for example, as a result of the high risk of addiction for this type of medication.

Some insurers consider the use of medical marijuana to be risky enough that it affects premiums or policy eligibility – but others don’t and will disregard medical marijuana use entirely when making decisions about coverage. Still, others treat cannabis differently if it is THC-free versus if you’re using marijuana products with THC.

Shopping around will be important even if you’re using medical marijuana as a result of the fact that different insurers have different policies. But, even if you’re worried it could cost you more, never try to lie about your use of medical marijuana.

You should be upfront about all prescriptions you have during an insurance medical exam, both to ensure your beneficiaries receive a death benefit in the future and to weed out companies where your marijuana prescription will preclude you from obtaining affordable coverage.

The Best Policies for Marijuana Users

The good news is there are plenty of marijuana-friendly life insurers out there particularly since there is increasing marijuana legalization in states like Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and California, so it’s possible for you to find coverage even when you’re a cannabis user.

In fact, many major insurance companies including Prudential, MetLife, Mutual of Omaha, and AIG are known for being fairly comfortable with marijuana use among potential policyholders.

And they aren’t the only ones. For the majority of insurers, the impact of marijuana is typically smaller than the impact of using nicotine or even certain other legal substances such as prescription opioids or muscle relaxers.

Because there are many life insurers that don’t penalize marijuana use, you have the opportunity to be selective in who you get coverage from. Compare quotes from many different insurers so you can find the cheapest premiums for the broadest coverage.

Marijuana Won’t Stop You From Getting Life Insurance

If you’re a marijuana user and concerned about your ability to buy affordable life insurance, you don’t have to worry. With so many people using recreational or medicinal marijuana, many insurers have come to realize that the risks of cannabis use are relatively small.

Marijuana use that shows up in a blood test or other lab results likely won’t affect insurance rates as much as smoking or using certain other prescription or illegal drugs – and it may not affect your costs or eligibility at all.

Since you have many options for buying life insurance coverage as a marijuana user, you should shop around to find a policy that provides the protection you seek from a company you can trust at a price you can easily afford. Your family will be glad for the protection that comes when you’re fully covered.